Jack Bauer Going to West Point

Henry Bowles reports that Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer on FOX’s “24,” is going to West Point to try to convince the cadets that torturing prisoners is wrong, despite it being a staple of the show. Apparently, the officers who serve as professors and tactical officers are having trouble selling the “Jack Bauer is a criminal” mantra.

It has been almost twenty years now since my cadet days but it was precisely the opposite in those days. Most of us we incredibly idealistic and positively doctrinaire about following the Law of Land Warfare, the Code of Conduct, and other things we were taught. I guess this is another example of “9/11 Changed Everything.” It’s not a good change.

FILED UNDER: Education, Military Affairs, Terrorism, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    I guess this is another example of “9/11 Changed Everything.” It’s not a good change.

    9/11 didn’t change anything. Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez and Rumsfeld abandoned any semblance of the government’s commitment to human rights.

  2. DC Loser says:

    Certainly the policies set forth in the GWOT and OIF and its aftermath haven’t helped to clear up the impression that torture is not a good thing. With DoD and DoJ lawyers splitting hairs defining torture, we’re not exactly providing the idealistic cadets with much clarity on the issue.

  3. cian says:


    You followed the law in your day just as they are following the law now. Things have changed since you fell asleep. To catch up I would recommend Steven Miles article ‘Medical Ethics and the Interrogation of Guantanamo 063’ in The American Journal of Bioethics available online at http://www.bioethics.net, from which I quote:

    He then was subjected to eighty hours of nearly continuous interrogation until what was intended to be a 24-hour “recuperation.” This recuperation was entirely occupied by a hospitalization for hypothermia that had resulted from deliberately abusive use of an air conditioner. Army investigators reported that al-Qahtani’s body temperature had been cooled to 95 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 36.1 degrees Celsius) and that his heart rate had slowed to thirty-five beats per minute. While hospitalized, his electrolytes were corrected and an ultrasound did not find venous thrombosis as a cause for the swelling of his leg.

    Please note: the medical attention he received was not for his well being, it was to assess how much more torment he could take.

    While its hard to have sympathy for al- Qahtani (considered the 12th hijacker), this treatment and worse was also inflicted on hundreds of other, as of yet, untried prisoners handed over for bounty money to American troops in Afghanistan. The Military Commissions Act has made this kind of treatment legal and a legitimate part of our country’s war tools in the endless fight against world terrorism. Should the president deem it so, the treatment these prisoners are experience today could be used against you and your family tomorrow. Not a mantra James, its the law.

  4. Anderson says:

    If Qahtani was the 12th hijacker, then who was on the plane?

  5. davod says:

    The lie to all of this torture nonsense is that there were any changes made by the administration. All the administration did was try to clarify what was vague.

    If the powers that be feel they have to get someone in to tell their students that torture is wrong then I would suggest the chain of command has a much greater problem.

  6. Anderson says:

    All the administration did was try to clarify what was vague.

    I hope you believe that nonsense, because sad as it is, the alternatives are more reprehensible.

    There is nothing “vague” about “treat all detainees with respect, and when in doubt whether something’s acceptable, don’t do it.” It only becomes “vague” when someone wants to break that rule.